Since the return of the Beginners Paddling Series this summer we have grown quite a bit. The first paddle this year was a small group of about 4 people, the second in early July was about 8 people and on the latest one about 20 people signed up! We have been able to reach people all across the watershed. Some new paddlers have come from the headwaters in areas like North Reading and Andover, others from Topsfield and Ipswich and everywhere in between.
On our treks downriver we have been able to guide the paddlers from our dock at headquarters, all the way down to the dam in the center of Ipswich with the help of our wonderful volunteers. On our last paddle we were graced with an enthusiastic new volunteer, Mr. Bob Grady. One day he stopped by our office to learn more about our association and become a member. Soon after he came out on the river to practice his paddling so he’d be ready to volunteer as a co-leader of the Beginners Paddle. Bob’s help was greatly appreciated and allowed for a 20 person paddle to go smoothly.
We had a diverse crew floating down the river. A family with kids, college students and adults of various ages. It was exciting to be with people who had never before been in a canoe or kayak and within 5 minutes of being on the water hearing sighs of relief and “this isn’t as hard as I thought”.
Everybody seemed to really enjoy the after-work paddle. Paddling offers a chance to relax and just look around you. To take in a beautiful river full of wildlife and tranquillity. Between the two Beginner Paddles taking place in July, paddlers were able to see a wealth of wildlife. White-tailed deer, beavers, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers and dragonflies. Painted Turtles sunbathing on logs on the water’s edge. It was soothing to paddle down a windy stretch with barely any current hearing song sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Catbirds calling. To watch Tree and Barn Swallows swoop down to the water catching the bugs that are pests to us, but an essential food source for them.
In our 4 canoes, 6 single kayaks and 1 tandem kayak this most recent Beginners Paddle was one of our most successful. We were able to get a large and diverse group of people together to share their love of being outside and exploring a beautiful place.
We are so happy that we still have two more Beginner Paddles scheduled for this summer on August 8th and August 22nd (both at 5:30 pm) and another in the fall on September 24th. We hope that we can help more and more people out on the river to enjoy the beauty and wildlife that the Ipswich River provides to us.